Champions For Humanity

Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi

1947 – Present

In post-revolutionary Iran, many citizens who had supported the overthrow of the Shah were shocked and dismayed when they learned of the enormous upheaval of social mores and penal codes that were forcefully being implemented by the Islamic fundamentalist regime which now ruled the country.  Courageous individuals have stepped out to expose the human rights violations of the last 25 years in Iran, and many of them have disappeared or been blatantly murdered along with their family members for criticizing the regime. Shirin Ebadi, a devout Muslim and former judge who lost her position during the transition because she is a woman, has been appalled by the oppressive nature of the new laws against women and children and has been representing highly sensitive legal cases that challenge these laws. In 2000, for the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic, the government admitted that a rogue squad within the Ministry of Intelligence was responsible for killing its critics. Shirin was representing two such cases at the time. While researching these cases in the courthouse in Tehran, she read a shocking transcript of a conversation between a government minister and a hired assassin, in which her own murder had been ordered: “The next person to be killed is Shirin Ebadi.” “My throat went dry,” she recalled,

I read the line over and over again, the printed words blurring before me…. I distracted myself by rearranging the papers in front of me, my mind reeling from what I had read. I wasn’t scared, really, nor was I angry. I remember mostly an overwhelming feeling of disbelief. Why do they hate me so much? I wondered. What have I done to elicit hate of this order? How have I created such enemies, so eager to spill my blood that they cannot wait for Ramadan to end? We didn’t stop to talk about it then; there was no time for gasps, or sympathetic murmurings of “How awful that you were next on the list.”…. At around two o’clock we finished, and it was only then that I told the other lawyers… They shook their heads, murmured, Alhamdolellah, thanks to God; unlike the victims whose families we were defending, I had evaded death…. Only after dinner, after my daughters went to bed, did I tell my husband. So, something interesting happened to me at work today, I began.



Early Life in Tehran

Shirin Ebadi was born in Hamedan, Iran, to loving parents in 1947. Her father, a professor of commercial law, provided a comfortable home for his wife and children. Despite her adoring and respectful husband, her mother manifested continuous physical illness and nervous conditions due to her unfulfilled dream of attending medical school. Through her mother’s misery, Shirin developed a strong relationship with God:

One day… I crept up to the attic, to make a quiet appeal to God. Please, please keep my mother alive, I prayed, so I can stay in school. Suddenly, an indescribable feeling overtook me, starting in my stomach and spreading to my fingertips. In that stirring, I felt as though God was answering me. My sadness evaporated, and a strange euphoria shot through my heart. Since that moment, my faith in God has been unshakable.

Her parents defied the norm of Iranian households by treating their son and daughters equally, instead of awarding the boy privilege and special treatment. When disagreements occurred, they:

mediated gently, as though brokering a serious peace between adults… It was not until I was much older that I realized how gender equality was impressed on me first and foremost at home, by example. It was only when I surveyed my own sense of place in the world from an adult perspective that I saw how my upbringing spared me from the low self-esteem and learned dependence that I observed in women reared in more traditional homes. My father’s championing of my independence, from the play yard to my later decision to become a judge, instilled a confidence in me that I never felt consciously, but later came to regard as my most valued inheritance.


With the support of her parents, Shirin began attending law school in 1956 at the intellectually rigorous Tehran University, with the intent of becoming a judge. It was at this time that Shirin first experienced the powers of a protest. She recollected, “Something about confrontation–perhaps the adrenaline, the spark of an idea, the fleeting sense of agency–appealed to me, and I attended protests regularly. Fortunately, because it was the late 1960s and students demonstrated nearly every other day, I never faced a shortage.” Amid her college lifestyle on an extremely politically conscious campus, Shirin finally earned her judgeship in 1969, and continued her legal studies to earn a master’s degree in 1971. In 1975, she became the first female president of the City Court of Iran. That same year, she met Javad Tavasollian, an electrical engineer, whom she married after a six month courtship.

By this time, the revolution was at its peak and the protesting in Iran grew more violent and forceful. Demands for the Ayatollah, the overarching religious leader, to overthrow the Shah’s regime were more vehement, as many believed the Shah was overstepping the authority allowed to him by the constitution when he intervened with government affairs. Shirin did not yet realize what this budding revolution would foreshadow: “There was no precise moment when I stopped and discerned the broad outlines of what was taking shape before me,” she recalled. “There was no obvious signal that the fracas was more than overheated politics, that it was an unfolding revolution under the banner of Islam.”

In the political duel between those in favor of the Shah’s regime and those who opposed him, Shirin, like most Iranians, found herself drawn to the opposition group. She felt she could better relate to the opposing group because it was led by religious leaders who spoke in the traditional tones familiar to her and her fellow citizens. It seemed an obvious choice, compared to the Shah’s embellished court, whose officials were more concerned with socializing with American starlets at parties than with the political state of affairs of their own country. In January 1979, the Shah fled Iran, and about one month later the Ayatollah came to power. His appeal to the nation’s religious emotionalism became effective as he called on God to “cut off the hands of Iran’s enemies.” Although the Shah himself was no longer in control of Iran, his military was still enforcing the law, and had imposed a 4:00 p.m. curfew on the country. However, on February 11th, the Ayatollah, swelled with triumphant pride, called on the citizens to defy the curfew and come out into the streets to blatantly subdue the military. Shirin looked back on that day in retrospect:

Ever since that day, the twenty-second of Bahman has been celebrated as the date of the revolution’s victory… That day a feeling of pride washed over me that in hindsight makes me laugh. I felt that I too had won, alongside this victorious revolution. It took scarcely a month for me to realize that, in fact, I had willingly and enthusiastically participated in my own demise. I was a woman, and this revolution’s victory demanded my defeat.




The New Regime

The Islamic revolution of 1979 led to the dissolution of Iran’s monarchy, ruled by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the emergence of an Islamic Republic led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Islam, practiced by almost every Iranian, was a chief component of the revolution, as many Iranians were swayed by the Ayatollah’s emphasis on adherence to the Muslim faith. However, some observers recall, “what began as an authentic and anti-dictatorial popular revolution, based on a broad coalition of all anti-Shah forces, was soon transformed into an Islamic fundamentalist power-grab.” Once the Shah was overthrown, the new regime of the Ayatollah established a new penal code, inspired by Islamic law, which dramatically transformed the social contracts along which society was conducted. Under the new code, the basis of governance and its organizing principles were drastically altered in a way that would infuriate some Iranian citizens. Shirin Ebadi vividly remembered the moment she laid eyes on the new codes:

The grim statutes that I would spend the rest of my life fighting stared back at me from the page: the value of a woman’s life was half that of a man (for instance, if a car hit both on the street, the cash compensation due…was half that due the man’s); a woman’s testimony in court as a witness to a crime counted only half as much as a man’s; a woman had to ask her husband’s permission for divorce. The drafters of the penal code had apparently consulted the seventh century for legal advice. The laws, in short, turned the clock back fourteen hundred years… I felt my body become hot and prickly with a boundless rage.

The revolution had taken an unexpected turn, undermining women’s equality and worth. Shirin Ebadi could not tolerate this new set of unjust principles and resolved to devote herself to the pursuit of change. In a society that oppressively operates against her, Ebadi works to defend women and children, despite the culture’s degradation of their social ranking. Ebadi chose a career and lifestyle that requires a profound amount of courage in a time of agony, and her deeds shed light on the possibility of an improved future for Iran.



Islam’s New Interpretation

The governance of the Ayatollah dramatically altered the lifestyle of Iranian citizens. Many of the changes were not viewed as positive, as they required strict and unforgiving complacency with ancient Islamic tradition. A few of the new laws were particularly harsh for women to abide by. The government lowered the legal age of marriage from eighteen to nine, legalized polygamy, reinstated stoning as a legal punishment, and mandated that women cover their hair with a veil – or hijab, amongst many other unjust lawsShirin Ebadi felt offended by these standards, as she began to experience discrimination from her own coworkers in the Ministry of Justice. When a new man was appointed to be provisional overseer of the Ministry of Justice, Shirin attempted to congratulate him. Rather than thanking her for the warm wishes, he accused her of disrespecting the Ayatollah by not covering her hair with a hijab. She elaborates on her memories of the conversation,

“I’ve never worn a head scarf in my life,” I said, “and it would be hypocritical to start now.” “So don’t be a hypocrite, and wear it with belief!” he said, as though he had just solved my dilemma. “Look, don’t be glib,” I replied. “I shouldn’t be forced to wear a veil, and if I don’t believe in it, I’m just not going to wear one.” “Don’t you see how the situation is developing?” he asked, his voice rising. “Yes, but I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not,” I said. And then I left the room.


The Ayatollah’s mullahs, Islamic clergymen, that had played a key role in the revolution had radical religious ideals and focused on purging all remnants of the lifestyle of the Western world. As they considered Westerners to be filled with evil, they believed that if anything said or done by Iranian citizens could somehow be traced back to traditions of the West, it was a violation of Islamic law. Shirin commented in hindsight on how blinded her fellow citizens were to the consequences that the revolution would bring, “Perhaps we were too overwhelmed by the sight of our own Tehran collapsing around us to realize that rules and justice would be lost in the chaos, as is the case with all revolutions…What idiots we were.”

Shirin became aware of circulating rumors that the Islamic religion did not believe in female judges. The new government in Iran argued that women were too emotional to serve as judges – that they lacked the capacity to reason in accord with legal principles. In 1980, Shirin was dismissed from her judgeship and demoted to the “legal office”, where the judiciary clerks and typists in her workplace were said to belong. Of this experience, she wrote:

If I haven’t mentioned it explicitly, you have probably noticed that I am stubborn. I refused to sit at home and let my personhood a the ministry simply melt away… From the first day that I arrived [at the legal office], I announced that since I had been demoted against my will, I refused to do any work, as a show of protest. The head of the legal office knew me from before and understood why I was rejecting all work. He let me be. Each day, I went to the office and simply sat in my room. The hours blurred into days, and the days into weeks.


On April 21st, 1980, Shirin gave birth to her first daughter, Negar, whom she said was the “light of my ever-darkening life.” Not long after, Shirin was transferred from the legal office to perform as the secretary of the same court that she had once presided over as a judge. She gathered some of the revolutionaries she had been close to in the last days of the Shah, and implored them for reasons that she could no longer be a judge, demanding an answer. The only answer she received was the command to be patient. She explained her sadness at this response:

…Time would confirm my doubts about the revolutionaries. In their hierarchy of priorities, women’s rights would forever come last. It was simply never the right time to defend women’s rights. Twenty-five years later, they would dismiss my same arguments with the same answer: the revolution needs rescue. Gentlemen, I wondered, when, in your opinion, will be an auspicious time to attend to women’s rights? In the afterlife?

Shirin was assigned to be a “specialist” in the Guardianship Office of Minors and the Mentally Ill in the public prosecutor’s office of Tehran, where she helped assign legal guardians to the mentally inadequate and to children who did not have a father or grandfather. Her work environment at this time was especially filled with grief, as a war between Iraq and Iran had begun when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran for its oil-rich southern province on September 22, 1980. Shirin’s new office sat directly across from a courtyard at the ministry where mass funerals for those killed by war were conducted, a horrible scene which she was forced to witness numerous times. She had had enough of her depressing work and thus retired in 1984, one year after her second daughter, Nargess, was born.
At this point, thousands had fled Iran in search of starting their lives in a country that was not gruesomely being torn apart. When Shirin’s friends began to leave because they were afraid that their sons would be drafted to the war and killed, she felt deserted. In retrospect, she wrote,

In the beginning, I fought them. Each and every one of them, when they declared their intent to leave, faced my perhaps unfair flood of dissuasion and protest. I knew that the decision to leave was deeply personal. And, true, I didn’t have sons. But all the same, as an ethical and political stand, I didn’t believe in leaving Iran.

Nevertheless, Shirin would soon be forced to see the brutalities from which Iranians were fleeing on a personal level. Shirin’s brother-in-law, Fuad, had been arrested seven years earlier simply for selling newspapers that conflicted with the government’s teachings. In the fall of 1988, Shirin and her husband received news that Fuad had been executed. The laws’s cruelty was proven to Shirin when she learned what prisoner’s pre-execution trials were like:

The proceedings lasted just a few minutes, long enough for the prisoners to be asked questions like Are you a Muslim? What is your organizational affiliation? Do you pray? Is the Holy Koran the word of God? Will you publicly recant historical materialism? If the prisoner – confused, blindfolded, and unaccustomed to religious inquisition – answered incorrectly, there were no more questions, and the execution order was immediately handed down.

Shirin felt a substantial blow from Fuad’s execution. She recalls:

What had he done? As a judge, I felt more acutely than anyone the great weight of a death sentence… I could not absorb it. There is no law anymore, I thought to myself, and people’s lives are so cheap. That night, a mute fury settled into my stomach. When I think back and try to pinpoint the moment that changed me, the moment when my life took a different course, I see it all began that night.



Defending Human Rights

Roughly two years after the war, subtle changes were made in the Islamic Republic. Shirin Ebadi benefited from these shifts when, in 1992, the judiciary permitted women to begin practicing law. Shirin earned her license from The Iranian Bar Association and set up an office, where she was discouraged by many of the commercial and trade cases she faced. The justice system, ironically, was corrupt, as it often accepted bribes in the courtroom, which defied the entire justice system’s purpose. Shirin decided to take matters into her own hands:

By accepting commercial cases, I was put in the position of either abandoning my principles or failing my clients. Neither was acceptable to me. It was at this point that I chose to give up the law as a job that earned me income and to begin…taking on pro bono cases, where I could at least showcase the injustice of the Islamic Republic’s laws. It was a system whose laws needed to go on trial before they could be changed.


In 1996, Shirin heard of the rape and murder case of Leila Fathi. Leila, a nine-year-old girl, was raped by three men, then killed and thrown over a cliff. All three of the men were caught, though only one confessed. The man who was caught hung himself in jail, while the other two men were found guilty and sentenced to death. In the Islamic Republic, the family of a homicide victim had the right to choose between legal punishment and “blood money”, which is financial compensation. According to many Islamic scholars, gender should not play a role in determining blood money; unfortunately, Iran does apply discrimination based on sex. The penal code enforces that a woman’s life equals only half of a man’s, which is why the judge in Leila Fathi’s case ruled that the blood money for the two men was worth more than Leila’s life. The judge then went on to demand that the Fathi family come up with thousands of dollars to fund the two murderers’ executions. Leila’s family sold everything that they owned, including their home, in an attempt to finance the executions, but it was not enough. They were now homeless, and desperately sought out a doctor to try to sell their kidneys. The doctor was suspicious and consulted with a judiciary, insisting that the government make up the difference from the state treasury. Though the judiciary agreed, one of the murderers escaped a few days before the execution, and so the court overruled the verdict of the other. It was then that Shirin agreed to represent Leila’s family. She presented the defense:

It was unjust for a girl to be raped and killed, and for her family to have lost every possession and become homeless through the legal proceedings that followed…it was unjust that the victims were now being victimized further by the law.

The judge persisted that she was speaking against Islam and its sacred laws, which Shirin knew was a dangerous line to cross. The case, though it remains open to this day, made an important impact on Iranian society. Shirin said:

I did not succeed in getting the legal system to mete out anything approximating justice, but I do think we accomplished something else: we made a national showcase of the flaws in Iranian law concerning the rights of women and children. The case swiftly turned into a public issue, so much so that candidates in Leila’s province ran on platforms that included stances on her case. The Iranian press took on Leila’s story as an egregious illustration of the social problems of the Islamic Republic.


In 1997, twenty-two million Iranians voted for Mohammad Khatami to become the new president of Iran. Though he was not well known, he promised to transform Iran into an Islamic democracy, which gave Iranian citizens hope of a reformed government. For the next two years, Iran experienced freedom of the press. However, the freedom did not last, as the ruling establishment did not tolerate the liberal criticisms included in newspapers and magazines. Hard-line clerics and the judiciary ordered the independent newspaper Salaam to terminate. They charged its editor with violating national security, as it had run articles that drew attention to the ways that the state had stealthily murdered their opponents. Shirin had a distinct theory on why the state chose its victims: “Perhaps this was precisely the mission: to terrorize the intellectual and literary circles of Tehran so thoroughly that no one would dare raise their voice in criticism.”

Students at Tehran University protested when they heard this, and paramilitaries in plain clothes came to the university, beating and killing the protesting students. An uproar of rioting echoed throughout Tehran, as students were appalled by the injustice. Shirin read an article that detailed the murder of a young man, Ezzat Ebrahimnezhad, who was killed by thugs who operated under the orders of the extremists. Shirin reached out to Ezzat’s father, offering her services for free, after she read that he was attempting to sell his house in order to afford a lawyer to trace his son’s murderers. In March 2000, a young man, Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, came to Shirin’s office, claiming to have been a member of the Lebanese thug group, lebas shakhsis, that killed Ezzat. Amir. He admitted to having information about his comrades who killed Ezzat, and that he wanted to escape the lebas shakhsis because they were trying to frame him.Shirin decided to help Amir go public by videotaping interviews with him, in the presence of several witnesses to be safe. Amir came to Shirin’s office with his sister, and Shirin gathered all vital information needed from Amir to carry on with the case. This was not an illegal act, yet Shirin was beginning to have second thoughts that the Islamic Republic may arrest her for falsifying information against them.


Nevertheless, she gave the taped interview between her and Amir to the deputy interior minister, which turned out to be her downfall. The next day, horrendous stories appeared in the newspaper about a tape that exposed the actions of a notorious thug group in Iran, very similar to the information garnered from the meeting between Amir and Shirin. To make matters worse, Amir had disappeared and an interview between Amir’s mother and two lawyers appeared in the hard-line press. Amir’s mother claimed that her son had been brainwashed into making the tape, as the hard-line newspapers began to make sharp attacks on those who criticized the revolution. A court case had now been convened, and Shirin was summoned for interrogation. Anticipating a prison sentence, she wrote a letter to her family:

My dear ones, by the time you read this, I will already be in prison. I want to assure you that I will be fine. I will be released and unharmed, because I have done nothing wrong. Can you please do something for me? I want you to imagine for a moment that I have suffered a heart attack and have been rushed to the hospital. Wouldn’t that be terrible? It would be much, much worse than my arrest. So please keep all this in perspective…with love to all, Shirin

Shirin’s husband brought her to the court as instructed, where she was sentenced and arrested within twenty minutes. She was taken to Evin Prison and placed in a filthy cell without running water, where she stayed in solitary confinement for 25 days. Shirin describes the miseries of prison:

A bit later, the prison doctor stopped by my cell to measure my blood pressure. When he left, clanging the door behind him, I gazed at the pocked, stained walls of the cell and felt all of the anxiety of the previous weeks slowly ebbing away. I had no recourse to anyone or anything, I realized, except God. “I’ve done everything I could do,” I whispered, “and now it’s Your turn.”


After weeks of being transferred from one prison to another, Shirin was finally released with $25,000 bail money paid by her husband. She returned home where she was greeted by friends and family. It was not until her daughter presented her with a folder of messages from all over the world, that she realized she had become an international inspiration. The judge eventually dismissed the murder case of Ezzat Ebrahimnezhad, which was the root of Shirin’s imprisonment.




The Nobel Peace Prize

Shirin Ebadi was decidedly aware of the ways in which many in the Islamic Republic misread her intentions. She explains:

I have been under attack most of my adult life…threatened by those in Iran who denounce me as an apostate for daring to suggest that Islam can look forward and denounced outside my country by secular critics of the Islamic Republic, whose attitudes are no less dogmatic. Over the years, I have endured all manner of slights and attacks, been told that I must not appreciate or grasp the real spirit of democracy if I can claim in the same breath that freedom and human rights are not perforce in conflict with Islam.

For Shirin, Islam was quite the opposite of an inherit hindrance to democracy. Amongst the followers of Islam, there are different opinions and interpretations regarding whether the Koran, the sacred text of the Islamic faith, meant that Islamic doctrine should rule the entire state versus an individual’s personal spirituality. Shirin Ebadi believes in the latter. Her Islamic faith has been the cornerstone of her life – her strength and guidance. Iftikhar Ahmad describes Shirin’s spirituality:

Ebadi represents a pacifist, pluralist, and tolerant Islam. She says that her interpretation is pacifist because she believes that Islam is a religion of peace and that Islamic values are compatible with the values of universal human rights. Her notion of Islam is pluralist because she believes that Islam is respectful of diverse faiths and that it teaches gender equality, social justice, and democratic living. She believes that Islam teaches respect for life, liberty, justice, gender equality, and human dignity.


Shirin was invited to attend a seminar on Tehran in Paris, but the Iranian embassy objected, claiming she did not hold the same beliefs as the Iranian government. However, the officials in Paris were unrelenting, and Shirin, along with her younger daughter Nargess, went to Paris. During the last morning of their trip, Shirin received a phone call revealing she was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. She officially won the prize, and a press conference was arranged where a representative from the Iranian embassy conveyed a message of congratulations on behalf of the ambassador. Shirin returned to Tehran the following day. The flight’s captain unofficially deemed it: The Flight of Peace. After receiving the honorable prize, Shirin reflected:

I began to consider the [Nobel] prize’s real meaning. Not for a second had I thought it was meant for me as an individual. Such lofty recognition could only be intended for what someone’s life symbolized, the path or approach they had followed in pursuit of some higher purpose. In the last twenty-three years, from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy as an authentic expression of faith… That belief, along with the conviction that change in Iran must come peacefully and from within, has underpinned my work.



… Life After the Nobel Peace Prize

Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, Shirin Ebadi continues to receive threats to her life. However, this danger has not stopped her from pursuing what she believes is right:

At these moments, some of my friends and relatives suggest that I should spend some time abroad. What good am I abroad? I ask myself. The nature of my work, the role that I play in Iran, could it be conducted from across continents? Of course not. And so I remind myself that the greatest threat of all is my own fear; that it is our fear, the fear of Iranians who want a different future, that makes our opponents powerful.

Shirin continues to make a difference in Iran. Namely, along with her co-founders of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Shirin has helped to make changes in laws regarding women. According to the former civil laws of Iran, a father could legally designate his newborn daughter as the future wife of a man. Shrin has compared this practice to a form of slavery, arguing that because the Iranian government has joined the Treaties to Abolish Slavery, it is obligated to determine a reasonable minimum age for marriage and to require both the husband’s and the wife’s consent prior to marriage. Because of Shirin’s efforts, and those of other female attorneys and human rights advocates, the laws have changed, and the legal marriage age for girls has increased from nine to thirteen. Shirin had hoped that the age would be increased to eighteen, nevertheless it is a definite improvement upon the former laws in place.




Since receiving the Nobel Prize, Shirin has lectured, taught and received awards in different countries, as well as issued statements and defended people accused of political crimes in Iran. She has traveled and spoken to audiences in India, the United States, and other countries.


2003: Ebadi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Student rioting ensues.
Video of Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech:


2004: Ebadi wins a legal battle with the United States, enabling her to publish her memoir in the country, despite the U.S.’s economic embargo on Iran.
Shirin Ebadi’s interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered”:

Shirin Ebadi receives a number of awards and honorary degrees, including the International Democracy Award and Lawyer of the Year Award.
Read more about awards and honorary degrees given to Shirin Ebadi in 2004:


2005: Ebadi was voted the world’s 12th leading public intellectual in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll by the UK’s Prospect magazine. She was also given The Golden Plate Award by the Academy of Achievement, the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership, and the UCI Citizen Peacebuilding Award.


2006-2007: Shirin Ebadi finally publishes her memoir, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope, in the United States.

Ebadi becomes one of the founders of The Nobel Women’s Initiative:


2008: In April 2008, Ebadi defended imprisoned members of the Bahá’í Faith who were wrongly attacked by the Iranian government. This case, once again, put her and her family at risk.
Read more about Shirin Ebadi’s involvement with the trials against the Bahá’í s.
Ebadi publishes her second book in September entitled Refugee Rigths in Iran. The book examines the legal aspects of life as a refugee in Iran.

2009: Shirin Ebadi receives the award for Global Defense of Human Rights, from the International Service Human Rights Award.

At the time of the Iranian presidential election, pro-regime demonstrators attack Ebadi’s home and office while Ebadi is at a seminar in Spain. The Iranian authorities go on to seize Ebadi’s Nobel medal together with other belongings from her safe-deposit box.
Follow the links below to read and listen to news stories involving the case:


2011: Ebadi publishes her third book, The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny. In her work, Ebadi tells the story of the Iranian Revolution through the lives of three brothers: a monarchist, an anarchist, and a revolutionary Islamist, who all, eventually, meet a tragic end.
Article and interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered”:


2012: Shirin Ebadi calls for a campaign to release opposition leaders who have been confined to house arrest.
Read more about the campaign:


Notwithstanding the magnitude of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi has no plans to retire. She says:
I harbor no illusion of being able to retire, for that would mean that Iran has changed, and that people like me are no longer needed to protect Iranians from their government. If that day comes in my lifetime, I will sit back and applaud the efforts of the next generation from the seclusion of my garden. If it does not, I will continue as I have done, in hopes that more of my fellow Iranians will stand at my side.



Shirin Ebadi and Azadeh Moaveni, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (New York: Random House, 2006) xv.

Ebadi xv-xvi.

Ebadi 10.

Ebadi 12.

Ebadi 16.

Ebadi 32.

Ebadi 38.

Schirazi, Constitution of Iran, (1997) 93-94.

Ebadi, 51.

Ebadi, 40.

Ebadi 44.

De Bellaigue, Christopher. In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

Ebadi 50.

Ebadi 54.

Ebadi 56.

Ebadi 79.

Ebadi 91.

Ebadi 88-89.

Ebadi 111.

Ebadi 115.

Ebadi 116.

Ebadi 132.

Ebadi, 162.

Ebadi, 165.

Ebadi 204.

Iftikhar Ahmad, “Shirin Ebadi: A Muslim Woman Nobel Peace Laureate,” Social Education, vol. 68, no 4, p. 260.

Ebadi 204.

Ebadi 215-216.

Ebadi 216.

About the Monument

The Remember Them Monument is installed in Henry J. Kaiser Park, near 19 th Ave and Telegraph Ave in
Oakland, CA. The bronze monument was cast at Mussi Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, CA. Mario Chiodo
donated his design and sculpturing hours. The Oakland Chamber of Commerce Foundation was the
fiscal sponsor.

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